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WSL Big Wave Tour Season Is Fast Approaching

The season every big wave surfer has been waiting for is on the brink of the horizon: winter is here. The most daring and courageous watermen and women will take to the ocean following an all-time El Niño season that's going to be difficult to top. Yet, with the exciting addition of Nazaré to the Northern Hemisphere Big Wave Tour, with an exclusive Women's Championship, the World Surf League is preparing for one of the heaviest winters imaginable.

Grant Baker scores a perfect 10 during the finals of the WSL 2016 Puerto Escondito Challenge Current Big Wave Tour leader Grant Baker during his win at Puerto Escondido. WSL / LUCANO HINkle

Between October 15, 2016 and February 28, 2017, the WSL Big Wave Tour will be looking for the potential to light up all three premiere locations on the winter schedule: Pe'ahi in Hawaii, Todos Santos in México, and Nazaré in Portugal. When ideal conditions align predicting over 20+ ft surf (from the back, ie 40+ ft faces), competitors and alternates are given 72 hour notice in the form of a ‘green light' to drop everything and travel from all corners of the globe to chase the swell. With over $100,000 in prize money on the line for each Big Wave Tour event, competitors are scored on their best two waves. The largest score is doubled, in an effort to reward the surfer who paddles into the biggest wave.

Nic Lamb at Nazaré, Portugal on December 23, 2015. Photo by Andre Botelho. An entry into the 2016 Paddle Award category. Nazaré has bagged a bunch of Big Wave Award nominees, now it will be the site of the newest Big Wave Tour competition. WSL / Andre Botehlho XXL

An opening ceremony in Nazaré, Portugal will kick off the Big Wave Tour's winter season on October 15th, commencing the event window in addition to announcing the competitors for this year's inaugural Nazare Challenge. Big wave surfers and local royalty will gather at Praia do Norte in celebration of the waves that have put Portugal on the map as a big wave haven. Surfer Garrett McNamara (Oahu, HI) believes that Nazaré may be capable of producing the largest waves the world has ever seen, describing it as "a mixture between Jaws and Puerto Escondido, but on steroids". Since the Nazaré Challenge is a paddle-in event, McNamara will be tracking the ideal swell along with event organizers, Commissioner Peter Mel, and Surfline - the official forecaster.

Paige Alms at Jaws Paige Alms will be among the many waterwomen charging in the Big Wave Tour's first ever Women's Championship this winter. WSL / Shannon Quirk

Also new to the Big Wave Tour this season is the inaugural Women's Championship, which will be held either at Pe'ahi, Hawaii or Todos Santos, Mexico - depending on conditions. A diverse lineup of the leading waterwomen have been invited to participate. CT competitors Laura Enever and Bethany Hamilton are also invited to test their big wave knowledge. A new era of female empowerment is pushing the upcoming generation of women, including many new faces that will have a chance to put themselves on the map as the first ever WSL Women's Big Wave Tour Champion. Two Semifinals of 6 women in each heat will narrow the field, with 3 moving on from each Semi to the final. The Women's Championship is proud to offer over $30,000 in prize money.

The WSL Big Wave Tour competitors consist of the Top 10 seeds from the previous WSL Big Wave Tour season, four Surfline Performers of the Year, an injury wildcard, six local invited competitors and three wildcards to be selected by the Big Wave Commissioner on the eve of each event.

See the full competitor lists and alternate lists below (in alphabetical order):

Women's Championship 2016-17

Competitors: Paige Alms (HAW), Justine Dupont (FRA), Laura Enever (AUS), Emily Erickson (HAW), Maya Gabeira (BRA), Bethany Hamilton (HAW), Keala Kennelly (HAW), Andrea Moller (BRA), Silvia Nabuco (BRA), Savannah Shaughnessy (USA), Jamilah Star (USA), Bianca Valenti (USA).

KK at Jaws Keala Kennelly will be a likely favorite if the Women's Championship goes off at Pe'ahi. WSL / unknown

Alternates: Makani Adric (HAW), Easkey Britton (IRE), Wrenna Delgado (USA), Felicity Palmateer (AUS), Paulina Ralda (GTM), Tammy Lee Smith (ZAF), Maria Ignacia Valdés (CHL)

Nazaré Challenge 2016-17:

Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Alex Botelho (PRT), Carlos Burle (BRA), Andrew Cotton (UKM), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), João de Macedo (PRT), Garrett McNamara (HAW), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Antonio Silva (PRT), Hugo Vau (PRT)

Jamie Mitchell at Nazaré, Portugal on December 23, 2015. Photo by Guilherme Soares. An entry into the 2016 Paddle Award category. Jamie Mitchell earned several Big Wave Award entries last winter at Nazaré; this year he may be surfing it for Big Wave Tour points as well. WSL / GUI

Alternates: Tom Butler (UKM), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Tom Lowe (UKM), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Will Skudin (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Nic Von Rupp (PRT), Ian Walsh (HAW)

Pe'ahi Challenge 2016-17:

Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Carlos Burle (BRA), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Tyler Larronde (HAW), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Dege O'Connell (HAW), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Francisco Porcella (ITA), Yuri Soledade (BRA), Ian Walsh (HAW), Shaun Walsh (HAW)

Greg Long pulls into what will be the first nine-point ride of the Pe'ahi Challenge. Greg Long will be waiting patiently again for his Pe'ahi bombs. WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Alternates: Kai Barger (HAW), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Tom Dosland (HAW), Marcio Freire (BRA), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Will Skudin (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER)

Todos Santos Challenge 2016-17:

Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Carlos Burle (BRA), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Alex Gray (USA), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), Rusty Long (USA), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Coco Nogales (MEX), Jojo Roper (USA), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Diego Pertusso (MEX), Vicente Yazbek (MEX)

Josh Kerr, Carlos Burle and Nic Lamb take the drop at Todos Santos during the Final. Carlos Burle (middle) was the first surfer to ever win an event at Todos. Josh Kerr (in front) was the last. Nic Lamb (very back) has his eyes on the prize. All three will be back in Mexico this year should the call get made. WSL / Richard Hallman

Alternates: Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Jimel Corzo (MEX), Rogercin Ramirez (MEX), Will Skudin (USA), Nic Vaughan (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Ian Walsh (HAW)

WSL Big Wave Tour events are streamed live on worldsurfleague.com

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